Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Oh, the trials and tribulations.

Oh, the lack of libations.

Yes, the tension between American Airlines flight attendants and their superiors seems lately to revolve around service that's inferior.

View From the Wing's Gary Leff has been listening in on the regular listening sessions that American Airlines CEO Doug Parker holds with staff.

Things are getting pungent.

Some flight attendants seem to think it's impossible for them to offer the sort of service passengers expect. 

And, let's be frank, passengers tend to expect a lot less these days, as airlines pare down as much as possible or charge for everything possible.

Still, one flight attendant told Parker that, on a flight from Phoenix to Philadelphia, they didn't even have alcohol to serve in first class after takeoff. 

It had all gone in pre-departure drinks. 

Was it that these particular elevated passengers were elevated boozers, desperate to be loaded? Apparently not. The flight attendant said that there's simply not enough alcohol being loaded onto planes -- a situation the airline will apparently remedy.

Then there's the problem with delivering on American's sudden (and tiny) spurt of generosity.

Recently, American decided to offer free drinks in main cabin extra. That's the class with at least slightly more legroom than keep-your-knees-bent-below-your-chin class at the back.

The problem for the flight attendants, however, is that they already have to serve executive platinum members a free drink (or two) if they're sitting anywhere in economy.

Main cabin extra passengers are allowed more than one free drink. Alcoholic drink, that is.

These greedy ingrate passengers are getting so frustrated they can't get their free drinks in reasonable time that they're even pushing the flight attendant button to demand yet another glass of possibly passable plonk.

One flight attendant suggested boundaries to this bountiful boozing: 

It would be nice if the customer knew there was some sort of limit​. Let's say on the [Airbus] 321, that's a long airplane to work. So by the time we get back up to them in that section they're either ringing their call bell or their expectations are not getting met, therefore they're getting disappointed because they wanted another drink 20 minutes ago. I'm only in row 21 you know because it's a full airplane with crying babies and whatnot. 

No, I'm not going to suggest the crying babies should be served free alcohol, too, to lull them into dreamland. (Although I know a few parents who believe in it.)

However, I've experienced a little of the flight attendants' problems first hand.

At the end of last year, I flew cross-country in American's first class and witnessed one flight attendant trying to please 16 demanding passengers.

Well, 15 and me.

The flight attendant seemed constantly in a hurry, barely able to remember orders, scrambling to keep up. 

I can only imagine, therefore, what it's like for a flight attendant in main cabin extra, who also has to cater to those in cattle class and even sub-cattle class.

Naturally, flight attendants believe there should be more flight attendants. 

Parker is stunningly receptive to this.

Oh, of course he isn't.

More flight attendants means more cost and even more weight on the plane. American can't have that.

His solution to American's new level of generosity in main cabin extra? "If we can't deliver the product, we won't sell the product," he said.

Now how happy do you think customers, who already border on the grouchy and grumbly, will feel about that?

As American -- and other airlines -- shovels more seats into more planes, it will only get harder for the flight attendants to offer good service. 

But please don't worry, Parker thinks taking things away from passengers -- seatback screens, for example -- represents Going For Great.

Yes, of course he means great profits. Did you even need to ask?

Published on: Jun 30, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.